Threats are counterproductive, Johnson tells EU

British PM Boris Johnson on Saturday told the EU not to threaten Britain, saying a bill which would breach a divorce treaty with the bloc was needed to protect the country’s integrity, news wires reported. “Let’s make the EU take their threats off the table”, Johnson wrote on Twitter. “And let’s get this Bill through, back up our negotiators, and protect our country.”

With the EU steps up planning for talks on trade to end without a deal, Johnson has accused its negotiators of threatening to impose a food blockade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland. British lawmakers will on Monday begin debating the Internal Markets Bill, which one minister has said would breach international law “in a very specific and limited way”.

The government says it is needed to clarify the Northern Ireland protocol element of the Brexit deal it signed in January to protect free trade between the four constituent nations of the UK. But European lawmakers said on Friday they would not approve any new trade deal unless the withdrawal agreement was fully implemented, while there is also talk of possible legal action.

Both sides have set a deadline of the end of October for a deal, raising the prospect that nearly $1 trillion in trade between the EU and Britain could be thrown into confusion at the start of 2021 when a transition period ends.

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